Ovarian Cancer Glossary

29 Oct 2021

Somatic: The term somatic means “body”. It is derived from the Greek word soma.1

Germline: The sex cells of an organism (egg and sperm cells). 2

Somatic mutations: A genetic change or mutation in a cell that occurs after a person is born.3

Germline mutations: This refers to a mutation that is inherited or passed on to children through the germline (eggs or sperm).4

Hereditary: This describes the inheritance of genetic information from a parent to their child through the genes in sperm and egg cells.5

Non-hereditary: Non-hereditary is where a characteristic or trait of a person cannot be passed from a parent to a child through their genes.6

Personalised medicine: Personalised medicine aims to tailor treatments to achieve the best patient outcome for individual patients, rather than treating patients with a ‘one size fits all’ approach.7

Precision medicine: Precision medicine is a tailored approach to disease prevention and treatment that considers differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles.8

It is underpinned by genetic and genomic testing (sequencing), the results of which enable better prediction, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.8

Targeted therapy: This is a type of cancer treatment that targets proteins that control how cancer cells grow, divide, and spread.9

Stage 0: The stages of development in cancer are used to describe the spread of solid tumours. It evaluates how far the cancer has grown and spread at the time of diagnosis. Stage 0 cancer describes the point at which abnormal cells are present but have not spread from where they started. It is often referred to as ‘in-situ’ cancer.10

Stage 1 ovarian cancer: Cancer is in one or both ovaries only.11

Stage 2 ovarian cancer: Cancer is in one or both ovaries and has spread to other organs in the pelvis (uterus, fallopian tubes, bladder or bowel).11

Stage 3 ovarian cancer: Cancer is in one or both ovaries and has spread beyond the pelvis to the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) or to nearby lymph nodes.11

Stage 4 ovarian cancer: The cancer has spread further to distant organs such as the lung or liver.11



1 Biology Online. Available at: Somatic cells Definition and Examples - Biology Online Dictionary. Accessed October 2021
2 National Human Genome Research Institute. Available at: Germ Line (genome.gov). Accessed October 2021

3 Ovarian Cancer Australia. Available at: Ovarian Cancer Australia - Genetic testing and impact on treatment. Accessed October 2021

4 Australian Government, Cancer Australia, recommendations. Recommendations | Cancer Australia. Accessed October 2021
5 NSW Government, Cancer Institute NSW. Available at: Genes and cancer | Cancer Institute NSW. Accessed October 2021
6 Ovarian Cancer Australia. Available at: Ovarian Cancer Australia - Cancer Genetics | Ovarian Cancer Australia.Accessed October 2021

7 WEHI brighter together, Personalised Medicine. Available at: Personalised medicine | WEHI. Accessed October 2021
8 Australian Government, Australian Trade and Investment Commission. Precision medicine - Austrade. Accessed October 2021

9 National Cancer Insitiute, Targeted Therapy to Treat Cancer. Available at: Targeted Therapy for Cancer - National Cancer Institute. Accessed October 2021
10 Cancer Institute NSW. Available at: Stages of cancer | Cancer Institute NSW. Accessed October 2021
11 Cancer Council NSW. Available at: Staging & Prognosis for Ovarian Cancer | Cancer Council NSW. Accessed October 2021